I exited with pay rebel Warky

PAUL Mariner admitted that it was his “pig-headed” attitude that saw him leave Ipswich in February 1984.

Nick Garnham

PAUL Mariner admitted that it was his “pig-headed” attitude that saw him leave Ipswich in February 1984.

As the UEFA Cup-winning team of 1981 broke up, Mariner left the club and signed for Arsenal in a £150,000 deal.

Mariner said: “I was coming towards the end of my professional career and I would have loved to finish it at Ipswich, but it was not to be.”

Ipswich were not willing to meet the wage rise demands of Mariner and fellow pay rebel John Wark, who both asked for transfers instead.

“I wanted to stay, but I was pig-headed because the club were not doing what I wanted them to do for me, and so circumstances dictated that I went and I was lucky to go to one of the best clubs in Europe.

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“No disrespect to Ipswich but the way I was treated at Arsenal was incredible, although I did not play as well as I could have because I was plagued by Achilles tendon trouble during my time there.

“It was a very different experience in every way. When I was at Ipswich we would go on the coach and we used to pull into a motorway service station and have a cup of tea.

At Arsenal there were two guys on the coach asking if you wanted tea or coffee!

“After an away game at Ipswich we would have a steak and kidney pie on the coach, but at Arsenal they would put white table cloths out and we would be given right royal treatment.

“It came as a shock. I have seen a lot in football but I was not prepared for how well the players were treated and catered for.

“Having said that, the one thing you can't manufacture in football is team spirit. We had team spirit at Ipswich and that's what gets you through.”

Mariner left Arsenal in July 1986 after scoring 17 goals in 80 appearances and joined Portsmouth after being given a free transfer by George Graham.

“I had a great time at Portsmouth. Alan Ball was the manager and he was a players' man. You knew exactly where you stood with him. He did not pull any punches and I enjoyed playing in that environment.

“We had a team of renegades. We had Alan Knight in goal, Kenny Swain, Kevin O'Callaghan, Vince Hilaire, Mike Kennedy and Mick Quinn. “Kenny Swain and I were the most sensible - it was amazing.

“Portsmouth had been pressing for promotion and we finally got them up to the First Division, which is now the Premier League. I then took a back seat because of injury and finished my career at the age of 35 because I could not carry on.”

Mariner packed up playing in 1988 after making 49 league appearances and a further seven from the bench and scoring nine goals for Pompey.

“I started to wonder what I was going to do after playing. There was no-one to mentor me - no-one to ask what I should do.

“John Smith, who was a big Arsenal fan, had just sold his record business for a few million. He was a very astute businessman and said that as I knew everyone in football, we should join together so we started First Artist Management.

“On the surface it was great - our first contract was with the England football team and we also became Maradona's European agent, but I did it for a year and it nearly killed me!

“In addition to travelling from Ipswich to London every day I was also playing in Malta, flying out on a Friday, playing on a Saturday and then flying home on a Sunday.

“I decided it was not for me any more and John has taken the business on and done an incredible job with it and I am thrilled for him.”

It was then that Mariner took up an offer to go to Albany, which is upstate from New York in the USA.

“I had always been fascinated by the States since 1976 when I was there for the Bicentennial. Coming from Bolton and living and playing in England I found New York a whole new way of life. In the winter I came home and played in Malta and then I went back to America in the summer.”

Mariner, who was player-coach at Albany Capitals in the American Professional Soccer League, the forerunner to Major League Soccer, then took up an offer from Laurie Calloway, the former Blackburn Rovers player, to be player-coach of the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks, before returning to live in Bolton in 1993.

“I was an odd-job man. I worked with the strikers for David Moyes when he was manager at Preston North End, was master in charge of soccer at Bolton School and worked for BBC Radio Lancashire.

“It was a colourful lifestyle, but not very lucrative financially. Although I loved every minute of it I could not make ends meet, so I went back to America.”

Mariner formed his own academy in 1996, coaching youngsters from the age of three upwards, and this had grown to catering for around 2,000 children by 2002, before he moved to Boston where he was assistant coach at Harvard University.

It was then that he teamed up with former Liverpool and Scotland defender Steve Nicol at New England Revolution.

He has just started his fourth season with the Revolution, who he has helped to lead to three straight MLS Eastern Conference Championship titles, as well as the MLS Cup in 2005 and 2006.

“We are doing a very good job with the American players we have. We don't have lots of money to buy players like LA Galaxy have with David Beckham.”

Mariner said he holds ambitions to be head coach of a side in the MLS.

“I have applied for head coach jobs and not been successful, but with only so many jobs available it is difficult.

“Having said that, I am currently working for a good organisation and I love Boston which is similar to a European city.”

Mariner is still a keen student of English and European football and keeps in regular touch with former Town team-mates John Wark, Mick Mills and Terry Butcher.

“I try to come over to England once a year and usually see Alan Brazil (his former Ipswich strike partner) at the races.”

The last time Mariner was at Portman Road was for the 25th anniversary of the FA Cup win in 2003 and he has not seen a match at the ground since the club was last in the Premiership in 2001-2002.

Mariner, who is married to second wife Dee, has three grown-up sons from his first marriage - Dan, Joe and George - who all still live in England.